Lesson 12 The History Of Christianity LESSON TWELVE THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY When Jesus Christ had finished winning our salvation, he established the twelve disciples as leaders of the church on earth. He then gave them the lifelong job of spreading his good news about God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ. Then he ascended into heaven to rule over the world until judgment day. What is God’s view of history? His – story Eternal life and death Submit Submit Judgment Day (?) The Church Era “Christianity” Submit Submit
The Gospel is Preached (4 BC – Judgment Day) Submit
Submit The Savior Comes (4 BC) Submit Submit Promises of a Savior (The Fall to 4 BC) Submit Submit The Fall (?4000 – 8000 BC) Submit Submit The Creation (?4000 – 8000 BC) What did Jesus say about the Church Era?
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH: A HISTORY The Holy Spirit brings people to faith and to a new relationship with God. He guides them in their daily living. He gives them the confidence to pray. But he does more than bring people to God; he also brings them together. Acts 2:47 – The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. PART ONE – THE BIBLICAL RECORD A. JEWISH CHRISTIANS The church in its earliest days is made up largely of Jews living in the area around Jerusalem. Then a fierce persecution breaks out against the Christians, and they flee. However, rather than stamping out Christianity, it only hastens its spread. ACTS 8:4 – Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went. One of the church’s earliest persecutors is Saul of Tarsus, a fanatic Pharisee, who saw Christianity as a threat to the “true religion” of the Jews. Jesus personally appears to Saul, and he is converted. Read Acts 9:1-9. Saul begins calling himself Paul (which means “small”) and becomes one of Christianity’s foremost spokesmen. He is God’s chosen messenger to the Gentiles (non-Jews). B. GENTILE CHRISTIANS Soon a change begins to occur. Paul in his missionary journeys encounters stiffly unyielding opposition to the gospel from the Jews. He then turns to the Gentiles, who eagerly receive the message of Christ. The breaking point occurs in Antioch, a city in the roman province of Pisidia. ACTS 13:44-46 – On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the gentiles.” What Jesus had said to the apostles as he prepared to return to his father was now unfolding. ACTS 1:8 – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. C. THE MINISTRY OF SAINT PAUL YEAR ACTS OF THE APOSTLES LETTERS OF PAUL LIFE OF PAUL, OTHER CHRISTIAN LEADERS 30 1-8 Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection 31 32 Martyrdom of Stephen 33 9 Conversion of Saul (Paul) 34 35 Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18) 36 10-11 Paul in Tarsus 37-43 44 12 Martyrdom of James 45 Paul in Antioch 46 Famine relief visit to Jerusalem Galatians 2:1 47 13-14 FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNEY 48 Galatians 49 15 Jerusalem Council 50 16-18 SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEY (in Corinth 18 months) 51 1 Thessalonians 52 2 Thessalonians 53 19-21 THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY (in Ephesus 27 months) 54 55 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians (in Corinth 3 months) 56 Romans Arrest in Jerusalem 57 22-26 CAESAREAN IMPRISONMENT 58 27-28 Voyage to Rome 59 FIRST ROMAN IMPRISONMENT 60 Ephesians,Colossians, Philemon,Philippians 61 Release from prison 62 1 Timothy, Titus FINAL TRAVELS 63 63 (Spain? England?) 64 65 2 Timothy 13 Books MARTYRDOM OF PETER AND PAUL (or in A.D. 67) D. THE WORLD OF ST. PAUL Look in Books in the Bible and find on the map. (NOTE: Not in chronological order) THE NEW TESTAMENT APOSTLES Written by Paul ROMANS. A treatise on the Christian faith: how it becomes ours and the implications of our faith in our personal life. Few personal touches in this letter. 1 & 2 CORINTHIANS. Everything is exaggerated in Corinth: the city is extremely immoral, the congregation uniquely blessed, the problems severe, the potential tremendous. GALATIANS. The teaching of justification by faith is stressed, especially against externalism (form over substance) and return to Judaism. EPHESIANS. A rich and eloquent letter dealing with many matters, especially the doctrine of the holy Christian church, the communion of saints. PHILIPPIANS. A love letter to the first European congregation encouraging the members to remain faithful. Joy is a dominant theme. COLOSSIANS. Written to people not known personally to Paul, the letter warns against false teachers who want to pollute Christianity with philosophy and Old Testament laws. 1 & 2 THESSALONIANS. A young church has remained faithful in spite of open hostility. The second coming of Christ is the dominant theme. 1 & 2 TIMOTHY. Guidelines are given Timothy in the conduct of his pastoral office. 2 Timothy is the last of Paul’s letters. TITUS. Titus was left on Crete to complete the establishment of congregations on the island. The letter offers practical guidelines. PHILEMON. The owner of the slave Onesimus receives him back from Paul, but he returns a believer. Note: Christianity does not overturn established social orders. Written by others HEBREWS. An unknown author writes to Jewish Christians urging them not to return to Judaism by showing that Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament. JAMES. Perhaps written by a half-brother of Jesus, the letter stresses the importance of living the Christian faith. 1 & 2 PETER. Written to suffering Christians, the letters encourage and warn against dangers from without and within the church. 1, 2, & 3 JOHN. Faith and works exist side by side in a truly Christian life. The apostle John warns against the influence of false teachers and divisiveness. JUDE. Jude, too, may have been a half-brother of Jesus. He encourages his readers to faithfulness while condemning false teachers. Acts: Written by Luke to tell the story of the early church. Revelation (by John):Last book of the Bible to be written. It is a book of comfort which uses symbolism to show the ongoing struggle between God and Satan. Its theme is: We will win in the end! A Brief History of the Christian Church from the Death of the Apostles to the Present Time The Persecutions, Internal Conflicts, Rise to Power, and Deformation of the Church. (About 100 to 1517 A.D.) The Apostles are dead, but the church of Jesus Christ marches on. Faithful pastors, some of them disciples of the Twelve, continue the work already begun in Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and Spain. Zealous missionaries carry the Submit Submit banner of the cross to new parts, such as Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Southern France, and the region along the Danube. Consecrated Christians everywhere bear witness to the Savior, and many souls are won for him. To stem and stop the marvelous growth of Christianity, the devil looses the fury of heathendom upon the Church. Beginning with the torture and slaughter of Roman Christians by Emperor Nero in 64 A.D., we count no less than ten bloody persecutions in two and half centuries. Untold numbers of loyal confessors are beheaded, crucified, sawn asunder, thrown before wild beasts, or coated with pitch and burned as living torches. But all the cruel power of heathendom cannot crush the Church of Christ. The courage, and even joy, with which the Christians suffer and die for their Savior makes a deep impression upon others, and many are converted. Thus the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of the Church. Finally, in 313 A.D., Emperor Constantine himself embraces the faith, and not long thereafter Christianity becomes the religion of the state. Having been unsuccessful in destroying Christianity by persecutions from without, the devil next raises false teachers within the Church. Arius denies the deity of Christ by teaching that the Son of God is not eternal and equal with the Submit Submit Father, but that he is the first and a perfect creature. The Council of Nicaca, held in 325 A.D., rejects this heresy and adopts the Nicene Creed which declares that Jesus Christ is “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father.” The foremost defender of the faith at this time is Athanasius, after whom the great Trinitarian confession of the sixth century, the Athanasian Creed, is later named. (The best known of all Christian confessions, the Apostles’ Creed, appeared as early as the first or second century.) In the fifth century, Pelagius attacks the doctrine of the original sin and teaches that man can convert and save himself. Now it is Augustine who takes the lead in the battle for the truth and insists that we are by nature altogether incapable of good and owe our salvation solely to the grace of God. About this time the gospel is brought to Ireland, in succeeding centuries to Scotland, England, Germany, Denmark, and France, and still later to Russia and Norway. Thus, in spite of bitter conflicts within, the Church of Christ continues its conquering march through the world. Foiled again, the devil tries still another mode of attack. Already under Constantine, when Christianity became the favored religion, a lust after power made itself noticeable among the clergy. Some ministers were raised above others and Submit Submit called “bishops,” or overseers. Gradually the bishops in larger cities began to exercise more influence than other bishops. The bishops of Rome and Constantinople become the most powerful bishops. And when both want to be supreme, a split occurs in the Church and Christendom is divided into the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church (1054 A.D.) The bishop of Rome calls himself “pope,” meaning father, and declares himself the successor of Peter (who was neither pope nor bishop), the representative of Christ, and the visible head of the Church. He forbids the priests to marry, maintains that he himself is not subject to any ruler, and even claims the authority to appoint and remove emperors. Monasteries, in existence since about the third century, increase greatly in number and wealth and become the breeding places of much immorality. With the rise fm the papacy, the light of the Gospel is hid under an ever-growing mass of false doctrines, and a deep darkness settles upon the Church. The Bible is relegated to the background by tradition, the Submit Submit decrees of councils, and especially the pronouncements of the pope. The people are directed to rely for their salvation not only to the grace of God in Christ, but also on their own works. Jesus is pictured to them not as a loving savior, but as a stern judge who must be approached through the Virgin Mary and other saints. Purgatory, the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, communion under one kind, and the sale of indulgences creep into the Church. In short, it seems as if the devil has succeeded in bringing about the final ruin of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther and the Reformation. The Evangelical Lutheran Church. (1517 to about 1760 A.D.) But the Lord of the Church has said, “The grace gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” God still has his own in midst of the darkness of popery, and their cry for deliverance is heard. Other attempts to reform the Church have failed. Submit Submit The enemies of truth have silenced Huss by burning him and Savanarola by hanging him. But they are quite helpless over against a little monk, who, on the 31st day of October, 1517, nails ninety-five theses to a church door – sentences which immediately begin to scatter the rubbish of man-made doctrines that the Gospel may shine forth again in all its saving splendor. Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany, on November 10, 1483, nine years before the discovery of America by Columbus. For nearly thirty years he sought peace of heart in the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, and found it Submitnot. He went to school, high school, university, and finally in sheer despair, into a monastery. He prayed, slaved, and fasted until he wasted away to little more than skin and bones, and yet he moaned, “Oh, when will you be pious and do enough that God will be merciful to you?” One day he found a Latin Bible. He read it eagerly. Then an old monk, who knew more then his Church, advised him to trust in Christ for his salvation. This shed a small ray of light into Luther’s soul. Thereupon, as a priest an later on as a doctor of divinity, he made an intensive study of the Scriptures. And in these, while delving into the Epistle to the Romans, he found the truth which made him free, and millions through him. “Man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the Law.” (Romans 3:28) “Then,” Luther writes later, “the whole Scripture was opened to me and also heaven itself. Immediately, I felt as if born anew, as if I had found the open gate of paradise.” While teaching and preaching the newly found truth at Wittenberg, Luther becomes greatly disturbed over the way the people acted after they had bought indulgences, or letters of pardon, from a traveling monk by the name of Tetzel. This man, who Submithad been sent by the pope to raise money for St. Peter’s Church in Rome, led the people to believe that they could purchase the forgiveness of sins and did not need to repent. It was this that moved Luther to publish ninety-five theses against the sale of indulgences. In taking this step, he had no idea of starting a reformation. He considered himself a faithful son of the Church, and thought he was doing the pope a favor by standing for the truth of the Bible. But ”God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.” Hardly have Luther’s theses been posted when they are also printed (the printing press was invented in 1465 A.D.), and in four weeks they were distributed, read, and discussed over all Christendom. Thousands hail them with delight, while the pope becomes uneasy and tries to silence the Monk of Wittenberg with promises and then with threats. But Luther sees the light with ever greater clearness, and when, in 1521, he is ordered to appear before the Diet at Worms, he disregards the advice of his friends, who fear for his life, and says, “God is with me, and I will go even if there are as many devils at Worms as there are shingles on the roofs of the houses.” Standing before the emperor, the leaders of the state and Church, Luther is given no opportunity to show that his teachings are those of the Bible and the early Christian Church, but is simply told to recant, or take back, all he has said and written. His answer is – and millions thank God for it - : Unless I am convinced by testimonies of the Scriptures, I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, God help me! Amen.” Luther is now declared an outlaw, but powerful friends hide him in a castle, called the Wartburg. Here he begins his monumental translation of the Bible into the language of his people. Returning to Wittenberg Submitat the risk of his life, he spreads the pure Gospel by many sermons and books. Students flock to hear his fearless preaching and to be prepared by him and his learned co-worker, Melanchthon, as faithful ministers of the Word of God. In 1529, Luther publishes his Small Catechism for the instruction of the children and the common people, a booklet which is rightly called “the gem of the Reformation.” He also composes many hymns, among them the great battle hymn of the Reformation, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Then he issues a hymnbook, and soon the restored Gospel is everywhere, singing itself into the hearts of people, and the Lutheran Church becomes known as the “Singing Church,” a reputation which it enjoys to this day. Meanwhile, the emperor is doing his utmost to suppress the preaching of the Gospel. At the Diet of Spires in 1529 the “Lutherans,” so nicknamed by their opponents, stoutly protest against his acts; hence the name “Protestants.” Then in Submit Submit 1530 at the Diet of Augsburg, they present a confession of their “Evangelical” (true to the Gospel) belief, known as the Augsburg Confession. Fifty years later the Book of Concord, containing all the confessional writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, is published and signed by 51 princes, 35 cities, and 9000 theologians. It includes the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, Luther’s two Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord. About this time Lutheranism spreads mightily, finding a welcome in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Lapland, and the Baltic Provinces, and exercising a most beneficial influence upon the people of Scotland and England. Returning to the time when Luther is preaching and teaching at Wittenberg, we note to our deep regret that some who accepted the restored Gospel truth begin to intermingle it with error. The Anabaptist sect arises which rejects infant SubmitBaptism and rebaptizes (hence the name) such as join their communion, maintaining his sacrament is not valid unless administered by immersion and to people who are able to give account of their faith. These doctrines are held by the Baptists and others to the present time. Then to Swiss reformers, Zwingli and Calvin, disturb the church with false teachings, especially with regard to the Lord’s Supper. At a meeting between Luther and Zwingli, held at Marburg in 1529, Zwingli, following the guidance of reason, insists that Christ’s body and blood cannot be truly present in the Sacrament, and that the words of Christ, “This is my body,” must be interpreted to mean, “This represents my body.” Over against this, Luther maintains the Scriptural doctrine of the real presence, declaring that when Christ said, “This IS my body,” he meant what he said, and that no one has the right to twist God’s Word to suit his fancy. Zwingli continues in his error and, together with Calvin, becomes the father of the many and various Reformed churches of our time. Knox of Scotland perpetuates the false teachings of Calvin in the Presbyterian Church; Cranmer of England brings about the formation of the Church of England, or Episcopal Church, and later John Wesley, also of England, organizes the Methodist Church. (The King James, or Authorized Version of the Bible, by far the best English translation of the Scriptures for many years, appeared in 1611.) In spite of the departure of these and other false brethren, the Lutheran continues to teach God’s Word in all its purity. Luther died on February 15, 1546, confessing his Savior to the end. The Romanists at the Council of Trent Submit(1546-63) pronounce the curse upon the teachings of Luther, but God continues to bless the preaching of his truth. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) threatens the very existence of Protestantism; but the Lord of the Church sends the great Swedish and Lutheran King, Gustavus Adolphus, the “Lion of the North,” to the rescue. In the midst of the deepest sorrows, the Lutheran Church learns to sing some of her greatest hymns composed by Paul Gerhardt. Later, Johann Sebastian Bach, the master musician of all times, gives her the richest choral treasures; while George Haendel, another Lutheran, inspires her and others with his matchless “Messiah” and “Hallelujah Chorus.” About this time the Lutheran Church begins to do mission work in India, and Hans Egede, also a Lutheran, becomes the first to carry the Gospel to Greenland. THE GROWTH OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH From Germany the teachings of Luther’s Reformation spread into other countries of Europe, especially northwest into Scandinavia. Lutherans from Northern Europe became some of the earliest immigrants to America. Soon, they were doing mission work among the Indians. Luther’s Small Catechism became the first book translated into an American Indian language (1646). The Lutheran immigrants who came to the United States founded congregations, and the congregations united in synods. Some of the Lutheran synods in the United States today are: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS); the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS); the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS); and the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLF). WISCONSIN EVANGELICL LUTHERAN SYNOD HISTORY AND DOCTRINE Five pastors, serving 18 congregations, organized the “Wisconsin Synod” in 1850. In 1872 the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods helped to found the Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America. The Conference required that all its member synods agree n Lutheran doctrine and practice. Twenty years later, the Minnesota and Michigan synods joined the Wisconsin Synod in the body which today is called Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Because of differences in doctrine and practice, the Wisconsin Synod suspended its fellowship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1961 and left the Synodical Conference in 1963. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod had taken the same action. The Lutheran synods in America subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, but there are serious differences in doctrine and practice among them. The differences concern such fundamental questions as these: Is the Bible true in every statement which it makes, or does it contain human errors? Does God expect Christians to worship together to confess the same biblical doctrine, or may Christians worship and do church work with others who teach doctrines contrary to the Bible. WELS MEMBERS AND THEIR WORK Then Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) numbers 411,295 baptized and 314,355 communicant members, served by 1,224 pastors. The Synod’s twelve districts include 1,239 congregations in all 50 states, Canada, Antigua and St. Lucia. The congregations have 30.676 children in Christian Day schools, taught by 3,139 teachers, as well as 4,889 in early childhood education, 41,093 attend Sunday schools. In 19 areas groups and congregations and individual members sponsor Lutheran high schools, with a total enrollment of 5,501. A national association of WELS congregations and individuals maintain Wisconsin Lutheran College, in Milwaukee, WI, which offers a liberal arts Christian education for WELS members at the college level. Members of the Synod also sponsor hospital and prison missions, civilian chaplains for the armed forces, services to college and university students, homes for the aged, a home for the mentally retarded, child and family services, etc. In addition to preparatory high schools in Watertown, WI and Saginaw, MI, the Synod maintains Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN to train pastors and teachers. Pastors complete their training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI. The Synod’s official church magazine is Forward in Christ, published by Northwestern Publishing House, Milwaukee, WI. Other publications include a theological journal, the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly; a complete Sunday school course; catechisms; Bible Commentaries and other Christian literature; and Meditations, Scripture-based daily devotions.
The Synod’s churches help to support 274 mission congregations in the United States, Canada, Antigua, and St. Lucia. Eighteen teachers and six pastors minister to the Apache Indians of Arizona. WELS missionaries preach the Word in 24 world mission fields; Albania, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan. Laos, Malawi/Mozambique, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and Zambia. God’s Word is our great heritage And shall be ours forever; To spread its light from age to age Shall be our chief endeavor. Through life it guides our way, In death it is our stay. Lord, grant, while worlds endure, We keep its teachings pure Throughout all generations. Amen. Christian Worship: hymn #293 INFORMATION SHEET 1995 STIX A) SYNOD: Founded in Milwaukee, WI – 1850 Members 416,174 Baptized 316,221 Communicants Districts – 12 Teachers – (M) 654 (F) 1,175 Total=1,829 Congregations – 1.235 Seminary – 1 Pastors (Parish) – 1.226 High Schools – 20 Elementary Schools – 363 Colleges – 1 Students – 32,005 Prep Schools – 2 Sunday School Enrollment: 41,779 Teachers 5,916 VBS Enrollment: 44,047 Teachers 5,213 71 Missionaries 39 National Pastors 20 Mission Teachers 1 Vicar 10 Volunteers 4 Nurses 251 Congregations 60 Preaching Stations=311 Total Churches in 22 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and South America B) CONVENTION 53rd Biennial Convention WISCONSIN EV. LUTHERAN SYNOD July 24 – 28, 1995 – Michigan Lutheran Seminary Saginaw, Michigan Authorized Delegates (Voting) Pastors 141 Teachers 99 Laymen 153 TOTAL 389 Advisory Delegates – 56 Registered Voting Delegates (Won’t now this until convention time) OFFICERS: President – Rev. Karl R. Gurgel, 52, Lake Mills, WI – 2nd Term 1 VP – Rev. Richard Lauersdorf, 60, Jefferson, WI 2 VP – Rev. Robert Zink, 61, Muskego, WI Secretary – Rev. Douglas Bode, 55, Prairie du Chien, WI C) ————————————————— Evangelical Lutheran Church, (church’s name) ——————————————————, is a WELS congregation in your area. (city)